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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 30, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta 0 THE IETHBRIDGE HBJALD _ Morth 30, 1972- Ranch life in south Alberta's foothills By HIC SWIHART Hcrnhl Staff Writer "A farmer rancher's work is never is an often-quot- ed phrase, and when 'Hie Her- ald spent a day with the Char- lie BnrneU family of the Del Bonita district the statement was borne out. In arranging for another Chi- nook story, the opportunity arose for full exposure to ranch life at its host. It started when the alarm clock for this report- er was set at a.m. in Fort Mttcleod to ensure making the early morning breakfast at the ranch lying along the Canada- U.S. border, 10 miles west of Del Bonita. After a quick fuel stop and rousing photographer Wai t e r Kerber, the trip was started from Lethbridgc. Rolling into an Immaculate yard at in tha shadow of the Rocky Mountains with the sun jiist peeking over a high ridge to the east, the staff car was met by a barking, mannered purebred dingo Earned Blue. The warm greeting from the Biuniett family was slightly overshadowed by a plate brim- full of eggs, bacon and toast complemented by coffee with fresh farm cream. Introductions to the children, Joan, 11, Russ, 10 anil Tabi 2, n quick hello to busy housewife Mavis and small talk new hired man Eddie Ilofer, and tJie meal began in earnt'st. Charlie explained seme of his operations on the way to the corrals and barns, armed vith the milk pail. After getting a cr.K cut of the milking stall, getting the saddle horses in for morning feed and leading the milk cow into the proper locution, milk- ing began. After 10 minutes, squatted on F, small log adorned a flat lop, Charlie pulled a galvanized pail topped with white foam out from uniler the "milk Mavis was waiting for the fidded chore ot separating the delicious cream from the whole milk, and then went back to the work at hand. Eddie was feeding about 130 Animals being fattened in one corral and eight hulls, both Hereford and Aberdeen An- gus, in another. With an unusually large fnovilnll this winter, much ot the manure from the feeding corral had spilled through the gate entrance to the farm yard. Photographer and reporter were truly "ranchized" when the thin frozen layer on top gave way lo an ankle deep dark substance which according to the old-UmerSj ".smells like money." With 170 cows in the calving pasture, feeding operations be- gan. Charlie started the four-wheel drive truck, Eddie loaded bags of c oncentrat ed pel lets in back and left for the pasture, The cows knew what was com- ing as they stampeded to be first in line. With a crawling speed, Char- lie drove the truck ahead and Eddie spilled 340 pounds of pel- lets along the truck path. Signs of life were where. Grass was getting the green tinge, ducks were quack- Ing on the distant river and tveak-knecd calves just barely dry were scattered about the pasture. Roughage is important to cud- chewing cows, so off to the dis- tant hay stack for about 50 bales of alfalfa find hrome grass feed. Charlie said it costs about a day to feed his 170 cows in calf, with the price of hay about per ton. "The price of hay is high now, and to tell the truth, 1 don't know where a guy can buy it right he -said. After a short sight-seeing trip to the U.S., the men loaded the bales and the slow (rip back to the calving pasture was started. Everything was going so smoothly, from breakfast through to milking and partial- ly completed feeding, that tho life of a rancher seemed a cinch. Driving aloug a trail, with water running down one track, at a slow speed allowing for talk about economics anil life on a ranch, the truck suddenly lurched to a halt. One side of the truck had sunk to the axles. One last try lo free it and the radiator hose broke, spraying steam from under the Lood. Eddie ran lo the farm yard for the waiting tractor to pull the truck out. It again afforded time for talk, It seems Charlie and his f e h a ve worked farms and ranches for years but have been on their own for only seven years. Eddie has been with the fam- ily for only a short time. 'Die work was previously done by Charlie alone or when possible, with the help of Mavis. Charlie points to two of his U.S. neighbors about three miles south and thinks the bor- der is ridiculous. He has an ex- cellent working relation ship with both of them. Eddie Is back and the chain is hooked on. Soon the tractor- truck cavalcade is moving to the calving pasture, bale load secured. With Charlie in the tractor, reporter at the wheel of the truck and Eddie cutting the bale strings and throwing them off for the cows, feeding is com- pleted in nliout 10 minutes, Back to the ranch house and fresh coffee with the ever-pres- ent fresh cream. Mavis is told of several new- born calves. She prepares some ear tags and the needle syringe for vitamin injections. Charlie saddles his horse and the rest of the "hired help1' storm off to the calving pas- ture. With the arm of a former rope hand, Charlie soon has one of the new calves in hand. He lags them at this stage because they are always near their mothers for positive identifica- tion and they are easier to han- dle, Straddling the calf, Charlie inserts an ear tag into the spe- cial applicator. With one swift motion, he sticks the applica- tor through the calf's ear and pulls it out, leaving the num- bered tag in it's ear. An injection of Vitamins A, D and E is applied to the other end of the calf and off he goes with the mother close behind. Hie same process is complet- ed on other calves, with Eddie trying his hand with some. The dinner bell rings and soon xteaks, baked potatoes, com and salad topped off with the f rosh r m and c of fee h a ve the city boys ready for a siesta. No such luck, as Charlie has a cow to find which lost her calf. He will put the milk cow? calf with the cow for nourish- mcnt so the family milk supply can continue. This is done and then it b time to round up the horses in the distant pasture, Charlie has a buyer for his roping horse, since his competitive days are over. With the aid of the truck, since fixed up after a quick trip to town by Mavis, the horses are corralcd. It seems like forever, but cof- fee time has slipped around. Fresh cream and this lima freshly baked chocolate cake with thick icing. The kids arrive home from school and some of Charlie's wi nte r h obby, leather work, is brought out for display. The kids' chores await them and milking is ahead for Eddie. Charlie will ride among the cows one more time before bedding down. Supper is still to be cooked, and then some relaxation. With new found friends, Ths Herald leaves tired but happy for the drive back to Letbr bridge. Charlie Barnell vaccinates a coif, showing Eddie Hofer the right way Learns ranching ropes on the job One of Alberta's first Canada Manpower Centre-sponsored on- the job training projects for a ranch band has been awarded to Charlie Bamett of the Del Bonita district. Fart of the government's pro- gram to reduce the number of unemployed, the project allows Mr. Barnett to collect three- quarters of the pay for a hired man for a five-month training period. After hearing about the pro- gram, Mr. Barnett contacted the Lethbrirtge CMC office for the appropriate forms. He sent a letter lo Winnipeg informing officials about the requirements 6f t he job a nd how he could train the man to be a ranch hand. lie originally asked for an eight month contract which would take the man through all segments of ranch operations, but the department allotted only five months, Mr, Bariictt could accept applicant from the CMC files or try to find one himself. He se- lected Eddie Hofer, IS, from the New York llutterite Colony, 25 miles east of Lethbridge, for (lie pilot test. He said the project relies on practical experience I e a r ned from the ranch oivncr. A hidden cost for the Barnetts is room and board, which amounts to 560 per month but this is also part of learning about ranch life. Eddie has his own bunVhouse equipped with controlled heat- ing and a television. He is learn- ing to drive the family truck nnd soon will apply for his pro- vincial licence. He docs some things with the Barnett family also. They took him to Cardslon to see his first movie recently. Eddie is thoroughly enjoying his new role- Feeding cows and working with the animals appears lo be bis favorite chore now. He has learned some mech- anics, how to milk cows and shoo horses (although he hasn't how to prepare rolled f e ed gra ins, som elhi n g abou t cattle and horses and the main- tenance of farm and ranch equipment. He is looking forward lo time when he can help a cow calve, or "pulling a u part of the livestock training. While on the colony, Eddifl was in charge of the piggery. 1 le also d id some fa rm work and has a head .tart in knowW edge for the field operations slated to start soon on the Bar- nett ranch, As for Mr. Barnctt, Eddie said he is a fair buss, who "can give it when it is neces- sary. "He is a good man to work for." The food is excellent, he said, and he has nothing but for Mrs. Barnett ;